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Linda Watson

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The Ladies of Low Arvie - Living the Farming Dream
by Linda Watson   

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Natural History

Publisher:  iuniverse ISBN-10:  0595358373 Type: 


Copyright:  June 30 2005 ISBN-13:  9780595358373

Barnes &
Low Arvie

How twenty-four Black Galloway cows became 'The Ladies of Low Arvie' and helped us to fulfil our dream of running a small farm in Scotland

In 2002 my partner, Richard and I, bought a 120 acre wet and boggy farm called Low Arvie in SW Scotland.  We arrived at the farm with no experience and no equipment.  This is the story of the twenty months from the day we first saw the farm to the successful birth of our first batch of home bred calves.

We faced and dealt with many challenges in that time, including:

taking my 90 year old mother to Scotland with us
learning to live with a limited supply of water from the farm well
coping with the only bull in Scotland that didn't know what to do
dealing with old second hand machinery that didn't work
learning all the rules that we had to live by which didn't fit the Scottish climate
discovering that cows are often more intelligent than us!

'The Ladies of Low Arvie' tells our roller-coaster ride through these months and how we won through in the end and came to succeed.

On Sunday morning, Richard again milked Wodan’s mother and fed him. He was holding his own and had even got up on his feet a few times. His mother was taking more and more interest in him and I was quite hopeful, although Richard was still doubtful about his survival. When Richard fed him the second time that day, he became quite distressed and kept turning his head away from the bottle. It was a worry that he didn’t seem too interested in food. When he refused to take any more, Richard let his mother out of the crush and came round to my side of the feed barrier and we watched them for a few moments. The mother cows make a low, gentle, one note sound to communicate with their offspring and we heard it now as the cow went over to her baby and licked him with her rough tongue. All of a sudden the little chap stood up on his wonky little legs and staggered around his mother, nuzzling his little face into her dewlap. And then as we watched, hardly daring to breathe, he took a few steps towards her udder. All the time she stood very still and waited patiently. It took him a while, but eventually he found the right place and to our great delight he began to suckle. We knew that this was the breakthrough we craved and that he had won the chance to live.

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Reader Reviews for "The Ladies of Low Arvie - Living the Farming Dream"

Reviewed by Linda Watson 7/25/2010
I've just received this email from Annis Pratt:

Dear Linda: I don't usually plunge into things this precipitously, but couldn't sleep last night and finished your book and posted this on
I am still trying to figure out how to post a review at Author's Den, and if you know how feel free to cut and paste this.
You might look under "back to the land" in Wikepedia to see an outline of this genre I'm mentioning. There might be some good places to market your book through The Good Earth Catalogue, which spearheaded the movement and, I believe, is still in existence. I know there is something like this kind of writing in England as I used to get (I believe the title was) Country Living.
Annis Pratt

Review of Linda Watson, The Ladies of Low Arvie: Living the Farming Dream (iUniverse, 2005) by Annis Pratt

Linda Watson’s book about what it was like to take up cattle raising in Scotland is well written and compellingly narrated, drawing you right into the practical issues and frequent crises of starting a whole new way of life in middle age. I started it one afternoon and couldn’t put it down until the last calf of their first season had been safely brought into the world around midnight, Detroit time.

The “back to the land” genre of telling what it is like to take up country life has been popular in America since Betty MacDonald wrote about moving from city to farm in The Egg and I (1947), followed in 1951 by Helen and Scott Nearing’s Living the Good Life, about the simple self-sufficiency they sought on a farm in Vermont. The counter culture of the 1960s and 1970s engendered a plethora of back to the earth writing, and our current emphasis on environmentalism and voluntary simplicity keeps the genre popular.

Some of us who are urban types like to sit around in our supermarket provided homes and read these books because they take us into worlds and lives we admire but have no desire to emulate; others,who are possessed of similar dreams, read them as a way of gauging the difficulties and pondering the possibilities of throwing a whole way of life out the window to undertake another.

Both will enjoy Linda Watson’s The Ladies of Low Arvie because she fills it with practical details but never mires her reader down in them and because, though exceedingly modest of the fact, hers is a story of admirable pluck and courage.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/27/2010
I enjoyed reading and reviewing The Ladies of Low Arvie very much.

I like Writer Watson’s command of language and while the narrative is at times humorous it clearly delineates what all farmers know; life and death and everything in between is part of the tale of all life.

While the reader does not need to be a farmer to find him/herself drawn into the narrative, I do suspect farming folk in particular will laugh, nod their heads knowingly or tsk in sympathy as Watson fills her work with the descriptive expressions needed to bring the words alive in this slice of life memoir.

I find Linda Watson’s The Ladies of Low Arvie: Living the Farming Dream highly readable, most entertaining and well worth the read. I recommend The Ladies of Low Arvie for high school and all other library shelves, it will appeal in particular to the farming community as well as the public at large, and is sure to be a delight to all who enjoy memoir filled with light hearted, joyous writing.

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